Friday, 6 February 2009

Ten Reasons Why Saving the Rainforest is More Vital than Collecting Litter, Changing to Low Energy Light Bulbs or ..... than Protecting Most UK Nature

Saving the rainforest and other habitats of global biodiversity importance is vital.


Much more vital than clearing up litter - or even than replacing high energy light bulbs.

"If the whole of Britain sank under the sea the world as a whole would only have lost a few species."

This sounds a drastic statement - but let's look at ten reasons why saving the rainforest is so vital:

By "Rainforest" I include other threatened habitats of high biodiversity world importance - from montane forest to coral reefs, from Galapagos islands to swamp. - "Rainforest" is shorter and more colourful than "sites of high international biodiversity importance".

1. In Danger of Extinction:
Over 1/4 the world's mammals and
Over 1/8 of the world's higher plants (many now say over 1/4) Source : IUCN

There are very few species under threat of global extinction in Britain.
Therefore - as I see it - it is more important (with time, money and resources limiting) to find ways of saving animals and plants threatened with extinction throughout the world, than to protect blackbirds in one's hedge or spend effort on litter picking.

It makes me so sad when I see church environment policies (and school and village ones) that concentrate only on picking up litter, changing light bulbs and maintaining a wild life area in the church yard - good though these activities are on changing peoples attitudes.

What do you think?

I will deal with the British Flora and Fauna tomorrow, and say why our wildlife is so limited - a little about how it developed and some species that are under threat today.

2. Extinction rates are proceeding at 1000 (maybe 10,000) times as fast as when there were no human beings.
Surely we - Christians and others -ought to be doing more to save species for future generations.
Many of us like to think we are leaving the world a better place. We give money to support big beautiful cathedrals. Think what good causes you have supported. Yet during my lifetime about 1% of the world's species will have disappeared.

3. Species are beautiful and interesting in their own right.

We are no longer able to see the Dodo, the Carrier Pigeon, the Woolly Mammoth - species which have disappeared due to human activity. Is it fair that future generations may not be able to see the Orang Utan, Mountain Gorillas, the Chinese River Dolphin - because we have taken all their habitat. (The world population has doubled in the last 40 years and is set to double again in the next 60 years- so will then be four times as great as 40 years ago)

In the UK butterflies are the group that has experienced the greatest net losses in recent decades, disappearing on average from 13% of their previously occupied 10-kilometer squares.

I have a friend who carries out work on Pyralid Moths of Borneo, photographing and sorting collected museum specimens - yet he wonders if some of these specimens may be already extinct.

4. Species could have uses we do not yet know about

My interest in tropical plants is strongly influenced by a visit I made to a friend in Cameroon. He was paid to collect samples of plants and trees to be pressed and sent back for testing for drugs that could be useful for cancer or aids treatment. More about that in a future entry.

5. CO2 from burning forests causes 1/5 of the global warming.

CO2 produced by burning the world's forest makes up 1/5 of the human made CO2 going into the air each year and causing global warming. This is another reason to keep the forest standing as forest. CO2 and methane from man drained peatbogs adds to the global warming effect effect.

6. Collecting litter is good - not dropping it is better - refusing to buy over-packed goods at the supermarket is Best .-
IT is fantastic how over the last two months most supermarkets have stopped giving customers plastic bags unless they ask for one - and I am the worst culprit for forgetting my shopping bag.

So litter, especially plastic litter is bad -
But loss of species is worse.

If I had £20 to spare I would donate it to a "Save the rainforest fund" rather than a "Keep Britain tidy fund." What would you do?

7. We cannot rely on Zoos to keep our rare species

Look what happened to the zoo in Iraq when the Americans invaded. Or what happened to the botanical gardens during the siege of Leningrad - and the heroic efforts made to save the seeds.

8. It is necessary to have a decent sized gene pool to keep the species going -
Otherwise there can be inbreeding. There may be a hint of this in the bible. If you read Genesis carefully you will see that God asks Noah not just to take pairs of birds and certain animals but seven pairs of each species (Ch7 v 2) Actually a lot more than seven pairs would be needed to stop inbreeding.

9. Why is saving habitats and species more important than changing light bulbs?
After all, using tungston bulbs uses four times as much energy as flourescent bulbs - and can thus b
e responsible for the formation of four times as much CO2 - global warming gas.

Answer: Because all sensible, thinking, people have already have changed to energy efficient bulbs several years ago

So changing bulbs should be a non-issue.

- Roll on the LEDs.. but they are not bright enough yet - hand powered torches and lanterns must be a boon in villages without an electricity supply.

- Apologies to anyone reading this who cannot tolerate the mercury bulbs.

10. Ah that leaves one more reason - I invite you to suggest one!

Comments welcome.


Rajendra said...

Next One could be "Use the Green Search Engine in order to save the Rainforest" For example you could use the ‘green’ search engine, There you can save 0.1m² of rain forest with every search you do. Forestle works like Google and is free too.
Thanks Rajendra

Anonymous said...

No.10 - The rainforest is a huge stock of useful chemicals and medicine.

In my country Malaysia, trees like the Bintagor has been identified to contain bio-chemical that can help fight AIDS. The venom from our native snake Wagler Pit Viper is used to stop blood clots in stroke victims. Long before the arrival of modern dentistry, natives here patch tooth cavities with resin from the Pulai tree. It kills germs and does a good job of plugging. I can go on and on ...

Anyway, I am impressed with your blog and the fund you are helping to raise for rainforest conservation. If you need help or examples from Malaysian rainforest, contact us

Keep up the good work.

Best regards,